Media Coverage About SAEN Stop Animal Exploitation Now

Botched euthanasia of mice at University of Michigan raises more concerns about school’s animal research


From Steve Neavling,, January 24, 2024

The University of Michigan is under fire again for its handling of animal research, this time for multiple violations, including the botched euthanasia of mice.

Stop Animal Exploitation Now! (SAEN), a national watchdog group that investigates animal abuse and illegal activities at research facilities, is calling for an independent audit and the termination of the lab workers who were involved. According to the group, 11 mice were improperly euthanized, “leaving them to become conscious in a carcass disposal device.”

“At least one UM lab technician is so incompetent that they cannot even kill animals correctly,” SAEN Executive Director Michael A. Budkie said in a letter to UM President Santa Ono and members of the Board of Regents. “It is impossible to comprehend what these animals endured, waking up in a carcass disposal area, likely on top of dead animals, contained within what is likely either a freezer or a trash can. No living animal should be subjected to such horror and pain. Anyone whose incompetence inflicted such abuse on an animal should never be allowed to touch an animal again.

The violation was documented by the Office of Laboratory Animal Welfare for the National Institutes of Health (NIH). In response, the university responded that the principal investigator and other staff members involved were suspended for a minimum of six months and are required to be retrained.

Another report indicates that a researcher left anesthetized animals unattended and failed to perform a veterinarian-ordered euthanasia. That researcher was suspended for a minimum of 60 days.

The violations are just the latest involving animal research at the University of Michigan. The U.S. Department of Agriculture cited the university for seven violations of the Animal Welfare Act, ranging from another botched euthanasia on a rabbit to administering expired drugs to a calf.

The university also has come under increased scrutiny after numerous scientific journals were retracted due to falsified, fabricated, or unreliable data.

Budkie says the violations and retracted articles are evidence that the university’s animal research has widespread problems that need to be immediately addressed.

“Projects are suspended, staff are banned from animal facilities, publications are falsified, living animals are found in the carcass disposal area, animals are denied adequate veterinary care, protocols are violated, and animals are simply lost — these are the hallmarks of the scandal-ridden animal research program at the University of Michigan,” Budkie said in a statement Wednesday. “Major changes must be made within the UM animal use program.”

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